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Business travelers are already starting to pick Amtrak over airlines for short-haul trips due to time, cost, and convenience; a more consistent Wi-Fi experience would only further the rail’s cause.

Coming soon on Amtrak: fewer excuses to not work while commuting.

The national railroad, which operates 21,000 route miles, is upgrading its Wi-Fi service to 4G on many routes across the country. Amtrak says the aim is to offer increased wireless speeds and greater reliability.

Hopefully, this will enable a wider set of online features for train travelers. According to Amtrak’s site, its current Wi-Fi service does not allow for “high-bandwidth actions such as streaming music, streaming video or downloading large files.”

Implementation of the upgrades has begun on the Acela Express line that goes from Boston to Washington D.C., and will eventually be installed on other routes, Amtrak says.

Currently, the service is free for passengers. No word on whether that will change.

Amtrak also announced it lost less money in 2012. Chief Executive Joe Boardman said Thursday the system’s cash operating loss for the year was $361 million, a drop of 19% from the previous year and the smallest loss for the system since 1975.

(c)2013 the Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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Tags: amtrak, wi-fi

Photo credit: A poster in Penn Station from when Amtrak first rolled out Wi-Fi and started advertising to business travelers. David Goehring / Flickr

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